When you’re going through the steps of a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia, you might wonder about witnesses. Are they required? Do they help? Do they hurt? Should you try to find one? Will your employer have one?
General Information About Witnesses
A witness is someone who saw the accident that caused your injury or saw other related incidents at your job and can talk to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission about the incident. Witnesses are allowed to be a part of a workers’ compensation hearing, but they are not required. Most cases do not involve witnesses on either side. Witnesses may be deposed and their deposition used at the hearing, and/or they may come to the hearing themselves.
Your Employer’s Witness
Your employer may or may not have a witness. If your employer is trying to say you did something against the rules and that is why you were hurt, they may have a witness for their side of the story.
Your HammondTownsend attorney will talk to you about the specifics of your claim. You will need to tell your attorney if anyone saw the accident or any related issues, such as ongoing safety violations. They will identify if a witness is available for your claim and if having a witness would help the claim.
Usually, you will not need a witness for your side of the story. Sometimes, however, a witness is helpful, such as if there is a violation of safety rules. If you are hurt because your company did not follow internal or external rules or laws about safety, having a witness who is able to tell the Commission about the problems can be necessary.
For example, say that the machine you work with was supposed to be unplugged when you did maintenance, for safety reasons. If you and your coworkers actually unplugged them, management wrote you up because the machines took a long time to restart when they were plugged in. You were hurt because the machine was plugged in when you were doing maintenance. Your employer says that the problem was your fault because you did not unplug the machine as the safety rules said. A witness in your claim might be a coworker who is able to tell the Commission that while the machine was not unplugged, it was because workers who unplugged the machines would get into trouble and might have their hours cut.